When you connect to a new and unknown network in Windows 10, the operating system sets it as Public. This means that Windows 10 offers the maximum protection possible from other devices on the same network because it treats that network as untrusted. Therefore, your Windows 10 PC is not discoverable on the network, and you cannot share folders and printers with that network. However, you may want to set the network as Private. Here are the quickest methods of changing the network profile in Windows 10:
IMPORTANT: For the procedure to work, you have to be logged in with a user account that has administrator privileges. If you need a refresher on the purpose of network locations in Windows, read this guide: What are network locations in Windows?. The procedure for changing the network location in Windows 10 is slightly different based on how you are connected to the network: wirelessly or through an Ethernet cable. In this guide, we cover both situations, each in a separate section.
How to change the Windows 10 network location to private, when connected to WiFi
If you use a laptop, tablet or Surface Pro device with Windows 10, and you are connected to a wireless network, first click or tap on the WiFi icon, in the notification area of the taskbar (usually found on the bottom-right corner of the screen). Then, click or tap the Properties link beneath the name of the WiFi network you are connected to.
A Settings window opens, with settings for the wireless network that you are connected to. In the “Network profile” section, click or tap Private, and the network location is changed.
Alternatively, if you want to change the network location from Private to Public, make the opposite choice. Now you can close the Settings window. The change is immediately applied and used by Windows 10.
How to change the Windows 10 network location to private, when connected through a network cable
If you are on a desktop PC with Windows 10 that is connected to the network using an Ethernet cable, the procedure is different. First, click the network icon in the notification area of the taskbar (usually found on the bottom-right corner of the screen). Then, click on the name of the network that you are connected to.
The Settings window is shown, with the settings for your Ethernet network connection. Click again on the name of the network.
A list of settings is shown, for your active network connection. In the “Network profile” section, click or tap Private, and the network location is changed. Alternatively, if you want to change the network location from Private to Public, make the opposite choice.
Close the Settings window and you are done. The change is immediately applied and used by Windows 10.
How to change the Windows 10 network location using the Settings app
The methods above are the fastest. However, there is also another way to make the same change, using the Settings app. In Windows 10, open Settings and go to “Network & Internet.” Then, if you use a Wi-Fi network, go to Wi-Fi, click or tap the name of the network you are connected to, and then change the network profile to Private or Public, depending on what you need.
If you use an Ethernet connection, go to Ethernet and click the name of the network you are connected to. Then, change the network profile.
How to change the Windows 10 network location using the Command Prompt or PowerShell
If you love the command-line, you can run the Command Prompt or start PowerShell as administrator. Then type the command Get-NetConnectionProfile and press Enter. Information is then shown about the active network connection. Look at the Name field and remember its value. It is the name Windows has given to your network connection. Also, in the NetworkCategory field, you see the current network location set for your network connection. Next, type the command: Set-NetConnectionProfile -Name “NetworkName” -NetworkCategory Private. Replace NetworkName with the value of the Name field shared by the previous command.
If you want to set the network location to Public, type Set-NetConnectionProfile -Name “NetworkName” -NetworkCategory Public, and replace NetworkName with the value of the Name field shared by the previous command.
To double check that the network location was changed, run the Get-NetConnectionProfile again and see the results. The NetworkCategory field should have a different value.
NOTE: For more information about working with the Get-NetConnectionProfile command, check the documentation created by Microsoft, here.
Why does setting the correct Windows 10 network profile matter?
Windows 10 treats your network connection based on the location that is set for it. Public networks are considered untrusted. You should set network connections as Public when connected to networks that you do not know, like those found in public places, airports, hotels, restaurants, libraries, or those of companies you do not work for. You should set networks as Private only if you know them, and you trust them, like those in your home or workplace. When you set a network as Private, Windows 10 allows your computer or device to be discoverable on the network, to share data, and devices, including printers. For example, you cannot install a wireless printer, or a network printer, unless the network connection is set as Private.
Did you successfully change the network profile in Windows 10?
If you follow the steps described above you can to quickly change the Windows 10 network location from Private to Public or the other way around. Before closing this tutorial, tell us if everything worked fine for you. If you had troubles changing the network profile, tell us what happened, in a comment below.